By: Jonathan Sprinkles, Leadership & Motivational Speaker

Everyone likes to be appreciated. I have come up with 25 shoestring budget ways for you to encourage, reward and thank your members (I know, you’re welcome). Keep in mind though, that what you reward is what you will receive. Before you put together an incentive plan, ask, “What behaviors and values do we want to encourage and promote,” then put together the program. Be sure to give extra points for the most crucial behaviors and values that you want everyone to model. If apathy is a big problem, give highest rewards to people who step up and chair programs. If people are constantly showing up late (which is partly your fault by the way), give the biggest rewards to those who show up early.

Make your rewards obvious, so that people who walk in late will see that they missed something.  As they youngest of seven kids, trust me, I know how much it sucks to have to sit and watch everyone else, but you enjoy a treat. Yeah, I still have issues. So what?

25 Dirt-Cheap,Yet Really Cool Ways to Reward Your Members

  1. A hand-written thank you card
  2. A gift certificate for an appetizer or dessert
  3. Flowers (works great in fraternities)
  4. Special recognition in a meeting
  5. Wash their car
  6. Give them a “captain’s chair” or “throne” at the next meeting
  7. Got to Burger King and get a crown. Write their name, what they did, and the date on it
  8. Take their picture for the scrapbook
  9. Have everyone say publicly why they think that person is so great
  10. Pass a trophy along every week (make it something fun—an armadillo, an Elvis statue or something).
  11. A 6 Pack—of water or coke
  12. A post acknowledging their good work on the group’s social media
  13. A one-year subscription to the magazine of their choice
  14. The book or CD of their choice
  15. Have all the group members sign a thank you card
  16. A calendar that reflects their one of their favorite interests
  17. A $10 gift certificate to Wal-Mart (Do not laugh. $10 can go a long way at Wal-Mart).
  18. Certificates of appreciation—Make it on your computer and get a frame from the Dollar Store. If you are good, nobody will be able to tell the difference. It is all good.
  19. A can of “mystery meat” (Spam, Vienna sausages, pickled pig ears, etc.)
  20. An E-card
  21. Tons of miniature chocolates or candies in a vase decorated with puff paint (from the Dollar Store, of course)
  22. Get every member to write one nice thing about that person and put the notes in a vase decorated with puff paint…you know the rest
  23. Purchase stationery and pens with the group’s name on it that can be given away as an incentive
  24. Have several people pitch in and take them out to lunch (dinner prices can get a little steep sometimes)
  25. Do a group serenade. The cheesier the song and the more people are around, the better. “My Girl”, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, “2 Legit to Quit”, and “She’s a Bad Mamma Jamma” are good for causing a scene

We’ve all tried whining about not getting what we want time and time again. Obviously, it does not work. Because we cannot control other people, we can’t control the outcome of every situation. Yes, people will get on our nerves. Yes, people will go AWOL in the middle of the semester for no good reason. So, what! This has been happening since the beginning of time. You are not the first person to ever feel this way and you certainly won’t be the last. Can you overcome the odds and turn around a sinking ship? If there were not any problems, your leadership would not have been necessary in the first place. A tough circumstance is the test of your leadership, a pop quiz to see if you really have it going on as much as you think you do. Keep tinkering with ideas until you find the solution to your problems. Do not let this make you bitter, let it make you better!


This article is an excerpt from the Collegiate Bestseller Take Your Leadership to the Next Level! By Jonathan Sprinkles. Jonathan is a nationally-acclaimed leadership and motivational speaker. He was nominated as the 2004 COLLEGE SPEAKER OF THE YEAR by APCA. For more information on Jonathan or to schedule him for an event, please visit or email him at